Narrow Head Credit: Na’Stacia Ellis

In the years since Nicky Palermo of Philadephia hardcore band Horror Show released a demo tape under the name Nothing in 2011, it’s become a sort of running joke in the scene that hardcore kids grow up and turn shoegaze. It’s a logical progression: hardcore’s raw, heavy sounds are built to express loss, pain, or trauma. Shoegaze explores heaviness in a less primal but still emotionally stirring way; it’s pretty and introspective, and deals with sadness and despair via crushing wall-of-sound dynamics. Of all the hardcore-cum-shoegaze projects out there, Houston’s Narrow Head are among those whose music speaks to me the most. Their members are veterans of Texas hardcore acts such as Dress Code, Skourge, and Wild Thing, and they tip their hat strongly toward the mid-90s alt-metal brand of shoegaze. Their sound pays homage to the likes of Hum, Deftones, and Failure, and on their newest record, this year’s 12th House Rock, they even nod to Smashing Pumpkins. My favorite Narrow Head release is their 2016 self-released debut LP, Satisfaction, which has big, gloomy hooks, noisy spaced-out guitars, sad-as-hell vocal melodies, and a massively crunchy sound. The band’s hardcore roots still showed in those days, and they deliver these dreamy, yearning tracks with a punchy aggression and bite that at times makes them sound like massive space-rock epics. Long out of print and pretty much impossible to find, Satisfaction will get a much-deserved reissue (on beautiful purple vinyl) on November 26 via Run for Cover. Narrow Head are also touring heavily, and they’ve played Chicago twice in the past two months, with Quicksand in October and with RFC labelmate Young Guv in November. Narrow Head have been around for years, but it’s starting to feel like their moment is just arriving.

Narrow Head’s Satisfaction is available November 26 via Bandcamp.